Local residents reach out to help hurricane victims
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle area residents are reaching out in a number of ways to help bring relief to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
A relief effort backed by several local churches is gathering supplies by the truckload for families in need in southern Mississippi.
Donations of bottled water, nonperishable food, personal hygiene items and clothing were delivered to a Methodist Church in Laurel, Miss. on Labor Day. From there, they were picked up by other church groups and distributed to families in need in more remote locations.
The supplies represented individual donations made at Fire Stations No. 1 and No. 2, Kroger, Hometown Grocery and Hartselle Utilities since Aug. 30.
"We discovered that 60 to 65 percent of all businesses and homes in that area were destroyed by the hurricane," said Rev. Ray Crump, pastor of West End United Methodist Church. They need work teams to help move debris to the roadsides, where it will be picked up by FEMA workers over a 60-day period. After that, they'll have to pay to move it.
There is a special need for volunteers who have motor homes, trailers on pull-behind campers, he said.
He also stressed the need for more water and nonperishable food.
"As the supplies we took were being unloaded, a group from another church was loading them on a truck for distribution in their community," he said. "We were told by the disaster coordinator in that county that conditions are so bad in two adjacent counties that no one has been able to get in to determine what they are having to deal with.
"The people down there are hurting. Many of them don't have a business or a home and are having to start all over. They need all the help they can get," Crump pointed out."
Joe Wheeler Electric Membership Cooperative has loaned nine employees, two line trucks, two bucket trucks and a pickup to the storm cleanup and restoration effort in northeast Louisiana, according to Jeff Holt, operations manager.
He said the crew left early Sunday and are expected to be gone 10 to14 days. They started helping to rebuild the electric distribution system in Washington and Tammany counties the following day.
Holt said damage in the area is so widespread a rotation of electric workers from outside will be required to fully restore power.
The cooperative loaned personnel and equipment to help restore storm-damaged electric systems in South Alabama two months ago.